William Ard, James Ellroy, and elements of crime fiction style
*"Clouds imploded. Buildings weaved. People blipped."
The first is from William Ard's 1952 novel The Perfect Frame and, two books into my career as an Ard man, I begin to realize that for all the trouble he had coming up with strong endings, the man had style. His ten hard-boiled novels about P.I. Timothy Dane appeared in the 1950s, the years when Ellroy was growing from toddlerhood into early adolescence and, while I have no idea whether Ellroy read Ard, I have no doubt that he imbibed something of the way people spoke and wrote back then.
Style is a funny thing; style to me can be mere showing off to you. And it's elusive. Dashiell Hammett was the greatest of all crime writers, but what constitutes the Hammett style?
While you ponder that unanswerable question, try these easier ones: What is style? Is good prose style necessary to good writing? Are the two synonymous? Who are the most distinctive stylists in crime fiction? What's distinctive about their style, and what does that style add to their stories?
(By coincidence, Dana King discusses style this week at his One Bite at a Time blog. Have a stylish day.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2015